How I prayed when quarantine hit

Originally appeared online in the teen series: Trending - May 27, 2020

March 14, 2020. The Spanish government declared a state of emergency: a quarantine, with a very strict set of rules. All schools, businesses, and public areas were closed. Citizens could leave their homes only for groceries or to go to the pharmacy, and no one was allowed to travel more than two hundred meters. A heavy police presence descended on the city of Cadiz, where I’ve been living, and if you were found doing outdoor activities other than the approved ones, you could receive a fine of five hundred to two thousand Euros.

On a normal day of living and working in the south of Spain as an English teacher at a high school, I’d spend the whole day outside of my apartment. On any given afternoon, I was used to seeing streets filled with people, bustling courtyards, and open-air markets packed with locals doing their daily shopping. Days here start slowly but last until the late hours, with people meeting friends, eating at cafes, and walking by the ocean well after sunset. I had never seen a street in Cadiz even close to empty before March, and when quarantine began, I felt anxious and unaccustomed to being locked inside all day. 

The level of fear was high. My roommate is very up to date on the news and would share daily statistics of infections and deaths. Other coworkers reached out in fear, asking advice on whether to stay in Spain or flee back to the United States. Very quickly I found myself feeling unsure, as well as overwhelmed by the fact that if I stayed, I didn’t know when I’d be able to go home. The US government released a statement saying that if citizens didn’t return home immediately, they wouldn’t be able to for an “indefinite” amount of time. Yet I didn’t want to abandon my teaching position (which I had finished online), or the city and friends I had grown to love.

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